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Dealing with Pesky Deer Flies

July 26th, 2013

The deer flies have been TERRIBLE around here this year. Last week I worked in the garden one evening, when I came inside I had been bitten 6 times. One of the bites was on my eyelid. When I woke up the next morning my eye was pretty much swollen shut. The funny thing is that I also had a bite on my cheek on the same side, which was also swollen up about the size of a macaroon. That’s when I searched to find something that might work against them. I came across this post explaining how to build a deer fly trap.
Deer Fly Trap 1
I ordered up the supplies I needed: Tanglefoot Tangle-Trap Brush On Sticky Trap Coating and Blue Plastic Cups. Yes the cup needs to be blue!
Deer Fly Trap 3
All you do is brush the sticky coating on the blue cup and you pin them to your hat. Really, it’s that simple. At first I was worried that it would catch other flying insects as well, like bees, thankfully that didn’t happen.
Deer Fly Trap 2
Our first test of our hats was a trip down to the mailbox, which generally ended with us running back up the hill swatting the swarms of deer flies that were chasing us. Mr Chiots arrived at the house with 9 stuck to his cup and I had 5 stuck to mine. We wore them the entire next day and didn’t notice a deer fly all day. That evening the final count was: 13 deer flies on Mr Chiot’s hat and 9 on mine. They work like a charm.

What’s the biggest garden pest for you, the gardener?

The Elusive Golden Beet

July 25th, 2013

I love golden beets, there’s just something about that beautiful golden color. Red beets are great too, but the golden ones are my favorites for roasting. Each year I plant seeds for golden beets and end up disappointed. Germination is never as good as it is with the red beets I plant, sometimes none of the seeds germinate.
golden beet harvest
This year was no different. I planted almost an entire packet of golden beets this spring and only about 15 germinated. The seeds were fresh, or they should have been as they were purchased this spring. My first thought was that I had planted them too early and the soil was too cool. However, I planted more seeds a couple weeks ago and not one seed germinated. I planted red beets last week and they’re already popping out of the soil.
golden beets 2
Luckily, I do have a few golden beets in the garden, not as many as I’d like. Next spring I’ll be ordering seed from a different source to see if perhaps the seeds I’ve had in the past were not very fresh (I have tried seed from a few different places). I’ve been very impressed with seeds from Johnny’s and High Mowing, so I’m planning on ordering a packet from each to see how they fare.
golden beets 1
If I do find a source of seed that germinates well I might consider trying to save seed from them. Freshness is often a key in good germination.

Is there a vegetable you can’t seem to grow no matter what you try?

Tying up Your Tomatoes

July 24th, 2013

If you planted tomatoes in your 5×5 Challenge garden you’ll want to provide support for them.  It can be something as simple as a large garden post or a beautiful iron trellis.  I usually use wooden stakes, but I used two metal trellises in my 5×5 Challenge garden (it is in the front lawn right by my front door).
tying up tomatoes 3
There’s not really a trick to tying up tomatoes, you just don’t want to tie them too tightly and risk damaging the vines.
tying up tomatoes 1 (1)
I like to use natural jute or hemp rope, but you can use all manner of things. Since I have a lot of tomatoes to tie up, I typically spend time one evening cutting a lot of foot long lengths of rope. This avoids having to stop often to cute lengths of twine, which saves a good deal of time if you’re tying up 30 tomatoe vines!
tying up tomatoes 2 (1)
Tying up tomatoes is quite easy, but it’s a garden chore that shouldn’t be neglected. I check weekly to see if the vines need extra support. If you wait too long the vines have a tendency to sprawl and you risk breaking them when trying to tie them up.

What do you use to support your tomatoes?

Berry Delicious

July 23rd, 2013

In the future, we hope to plant blueberry bushes and raspberry canes, until then we have to find them elsewhere.  Lucky for us, Sweet Season Farm is located just a few miles down the road and has pick-your-own raspberry and blueberries.
Berry Picking 5
Berry Picking 6
Yesterday morning we loaded up and headed down there to pick. Our neighbor and her mother-in-law were also in our party.
Berry Picking 1
Berry Picking 2
Berry Picking 3
Berry Picking 8
Berry Picking 7
Mr Chiots and I didn’t end up getting any blueberries, we plan on heading back for those later this week. I might freeze just a few, or we might eat them all fresh. Last night I was thinking about making a batch of Nourishing Custard with fresh raspberries. Or I might pull out a few of my cookbooks for inspiration. I love fresh berries in season!

Do you grow any berries in your garden? If you had a glut of red and black raspberries what would you make with them?

Cultivate Simple 39: Keep It Seasonal

July 22nd, 2013

Today we’re talking about living seasonally, particularly when it comes to the food on your plate.

Even in the dead of winter, the products of our labor were good. From the freezer we could choose broccoli or cauliflower, peas or beans or corn, anytime we pleased. In spring, we often had them all together in orgies of vegetable soups meant to clear the freezer for the next round. Though certainly we were well-fed, and spiritually content at living from our own labors, the broccoli, peas, beans, cauliflower, and corn came to have a certain sameness about them, a predictable ready-on-demand sort of quality that robbed us of much of the joy of them. The seasons were all flattened out, and one sitting to the table came to seem just like another.

Joe Eck & Wayne Winterrowd from Living Seasonally: The Kitchen Garden and the Table at North Hill

What is your favorite season of eating and why?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.